Last Updated: January 11, 2022

Zurich Vs. Munich: Exploring Europe

Traveling through Europe and not sure whether you should visit Munich or Zurich? If you must decide between the two, you’re certainly in the right place! This detailed comparison of Zurich and Munich features all you need to know about the two European cities, so you can easily make up your mind!

Read on to see what the top sights in both cities are, but also to learn which of them is better if you want to spend most of your time hiking and exploring the great outdoors. I’ve also included a quick comparison for those of you who are thinking of permanently relocating to one of these two cities. So, keep reading to see whether Zurich or Munich is the better option for you!

Answer: It Depends

Munich View

If you’re traveling then it’s better to visit Munich. The city has many more tourist attractions, museums, and other fascinating sights that will keep tourists occupied while they’re there. It’s also cheaper than Zurich, so it’s definitely the better option for travelers on a tighter budget.

On the other hand, if you’re thinking of moving to one of these two cities, Zurich is generally the better option. It’s a city of business and it boasts a much higher standard of living than Munich.

Visiting Or Moving?

Zurich View

If you’re traveling in Europe and you’re trying to decide between these two cities, Munich is probably the better option. It’s more affordable than Zurich, which is always a bonus for people who are just visiting.

But if you’re thinking of moving to one of these two cities, Zurich is actually the better option. It has a higher standard of living – although this means you’ll be paying a small fortune for rent and takeout, it also means that the average net pay is a lot higher in Zurich than in Munich.

It’s also important to keep in mind that Zurich is very much a city of business and it boasts a more international population, so it will be easier to fit in with the locals.

Another reason why Zurich is the better place to live is its geographical location. It’s close to Italy, France, Germany, Austria, and Lichtenstein, plus all the other fascinating cities in Switzerland. You can reach Stuttgart in about two hours and Milan in just over three hours, so Zurich really is the better city for people who would like to go on occasional weekend trips to other countries.

Exploring The Great Outdoors

Garmisch Partenkirchen

In case you prefer to spend your time hiking and exploring beautiful nature, Zurich is definitely the better city for you. Switzerland generally boasts extraordinarily beautiful nature with so many lakes and mountains that it can be overwhelming deciding where to go even on a quick hike.

Zurich is surrounded by spectacular mountains and it boasts a huge lake pretty much in the city center. Lake Zurich is popular both with tourists and locals and not just for the scenic waterfront views. It’s actually a popular swimming spot in the summer, so you should definitely travel to Zurich if you’re visiting during the warmer months and you’d like to go for a swim.

Additionally, Switzerland just boasts prettier nature than Germany. There are more fascinating natural attractions to explore, and hiking and mountaineering are just ingrained into the lifestyle of most people.

But, that’s not to say that Germany doesn’t have stunning nature. It absolutely does and Munich is pretty close to the Bavarian Alps. But you still need to drive for about an hour to get to the mountains, whereas in Zurich you can practically take a cable car straight from the city center and be at the top of a mountain in less than 20 minutes.

Cost

Zurich

Zurich is a lot more expensive than Munich, which shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. From a tourist perspective, it’s much better to travel to Munich. It’s not exactly a cheap city either, but you will get a lot more value out of your money.

You’ll also pay a lot less for accommodation, public transport, and tickets to tourist attractions. Plus, let’s not forget about restaurants and going out – this is a pricey hobby in both cities, but Munich remains the more affordable alternative out of the two.

Top Things To Do In Munich

Munich

Munich is a stunning city with lots of interesting things to see and do. It features a variety of different attractions from medieval attractions to modern museums and buildings, and you can learn more about the top sights in Munich below!

Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace

Nymphenburg Palace is the most famous attraction in Munich and it’s a must on any proper tour of the city. The palace grounds are absolutely huge at 200 hectares, and they boast flowerbeds, statues, an ornamental pool, and even a secluded wooded area perfect for romantic walks.

The palace is best known for its rococo interiors and baroque gardens, and it’s truly an extraordinary sight. Also, there are a few interesting museums on the palace grounds, so you can learn quite a lot about its rich history while you’re visiting.

Marienplatz

Marienplatz

Marienplatz is the central city square in Munich, featuring St. Peter’s Church, a toy museum, and not one, but two town halls. This is also Munich’s transport hub, so you’ll most likely be forced to come here if you don’t intend on walking all the time while you are in Munich.

The square boasts fountains, statues, towers, and lots of cafes where you can hang out and enjoy the beautiful views. Just keep in mind that this is one of the most popular spots in all of Munich, so be prepared for crowds.

Alte Pinakothek

Alte Pinakothek

Alte Pinakothek is Munich’s best art museum and an absolute must for all art lovers. It boasts a huge collection of art in a big neoclassical building, and the museum tickets are incredibly cheap. It will cost you only 1 Euro to tour the museum on a Sunday, and it’s the best Euro you’ll ever spend in your life.

There are around 900 paintings in the museum at any given time, so set apart an entire afternoon if you want to see most of the art in the museum. The collection is arranged chronologically, starting with art from the Gothic period and showcasing highlights from various years all the way to the 1900s.

Asamkirche

Asamkirche

Asamkirche is an 18th-century church best-known for its luxurious baroque interior full of frescos, stucco, and gold leaf. The exterior of the building is fascinating as well, but it’s nothing compared to the lavish interior. Definitely tour the inside of this church if you want to be wowed by bright colors and lavish decorations.

Olympiapark

Munich Olympiapark

Olympiapark is a vast Olympic park complex featuring a lake, a stadium, an open-air theater, a rock museum, a sea life center, and many other attractions. The park is popular for jogging and various sports, but also relaxed outings in nature.

There’s also a viewing point at the top of the hill, which boasts stunning panoramic views in every direction. If you want to enjoy some of Germany’s lovely nature, the Olympiapark in Munich is definitely the best place to be.

Munich Residenz

Munich Residenz

Munich Residenz is a museum complex situated on the grounds of a former royal residence. The place is huge, and it features a public square, museum, gardens, and many monuments and landmarks. The former palace boasts 70+ rooms open for public tours, most of which feature incredibly well-restored original decorations.

The Munich Residenz is not just the most popular museum in the city, but it’s also one of the most important palace museums in all of Europe so it’s definitely worth a tour.

BMW Museum

Munich BMW Museum

The BMW Museum is an absolute must for all car lovers. It’s situated in a futuristic building close to the Olympiapark, so stop by the museum if you travel to this part of the city. The attractions in the BMW Museum are varied, featuring cars from various eras, engines, and even BMW bikes.

The collection of BMW cars in the museum is particularly fascinating and it includes everything from the first BMW car that was manufactured, to the modern electric cars like the BMW i8.

Top Things To Do In Zurich

zurich old town gemuse brucke frauen kirche

Zurich is the smaller city of the two, but that does not mean there are fewer things to do in the city. With the best Swiss chocolate shops, stunning old buildings, a spectacular lake, and mountains just outside the city center, Zurich has something to offer to everyone!

Chocolate Tour of Zurich

Lindt Chocolate Shop

Switzerland is known for its amazing chocolates and Zurich is the perfect city to visit if you want to enjoy Swiss delicacies. Chocolate tours of the city are very popular and you can choose between dozens of different types of tours.

Some will take you on a quick walking tour of downtown Zurich, stopping only at the most famous chocolate shops, while others can last a whole day and will include trips to the factories outside the town.

The one thing all chocolate tours of Zurich have in common is that you’ll get to taste a lot of delicious chocolates. Pralines, chocolate bars, truffles – everything’s on the menu. Most tours also include a discount for certain chocolate shops and you should definitely take advantage of this since the Swiss chocolates are not exactly cheap.

FIFA World Football Museum

The FIFA World Football Museum is easily one of the most interesting museums in Zurich. It’s dedicated to the most popular sport on the planet, and it boasts an extensive collection of jerseys, balls, football cups, and lots of other memorabilia related to the sport.

There’s also a café on-site where you can watch a game with like-minded individuals, and there are even some interactive exhibits that will be pretty fun for the younger fans.

Mount Uetliberg

Uetliberg Zurich

If you’ve made it all the way to Zurich, you simply must find some time to visit Mount Uetliberg. It’s a small mountain very close to the city center and it boasts some of the best panoramic views of Zurich you could ever hope for. The mountain is easily accessible with public transport and the ride itself is very scenic.

There’s a train every half an hour and it only takes about 20 minutes to reach the top of the mountain. Once you’re at the top of Uetliberg, you can enjoy some breathtaking views of the Zurich skyline. There’s also a restaurant at the top, plus loads of exciting hiking trails that are perfect for exploring more of Switzerland’s extraordinary nature.

Grossmünster

grossmunster sunset mountains zurich

Grossmunster at sunset – Image Copyright ExpertWorldTravel

Grossmünster is one of the four important churches in Zurich, and it’s a great example of Romanesque architecture. The iconic cathedral boasts twin towers and it’s possible to climb them for some extraordinarily beautiful city views. The cathedral’s waterfront location makes those views even more beautiful, and this is certainly one of the Zurich attractions that you simply can’t miss while you’re in town.

Lindenhof

Lindenhof

Lindenhof is a small park atop a former Roman Fort that’s a popular gathering place in Zurich. It’s one of the places that offer the best views in Zurich, and it’s certainly a must for people who are into panoramic views. The former hilltop citadel boasts trees, benches, and even a small playground for the youngest visitors.

Swiss National Museum

Swiss National Museum

Travelers who are interested in learning more about the history of Switzerland should head to the Swiss National Museum as soon as they arrive in Zurich. The museum boasts an extensive collection of artifacts from Swiss history, as well as some of the most beautiful stained glass windows you’ll ever see.

The detailed exhibits chronicle the history of Switzerland and Zurich all the way from prehistoric to modern times. It’s worth noting that the museum is very modern and high-tech, and it even includes touchscreen projectors and AR exhibits.

China Garden

China Garden is a lakeside garden decorated like traditional Chinese gardens. It boasts pavilions, temples, bridges, and a beautifully landscaped pond. The small garden is unlike any other attraction in Zurich, both because of the unique design and the free entrance.

Zurich’s China Garden was actually a gift from their partner city in China, Kunming. The entire place is dedicated to the Three Friends of Winter, which are the three plants often found in China that can survive the winter without withering – bamboo, pine, and plum blossom.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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